Shining Like Stars

Horsehead Nebula
Over the past couple of weeks there is a Bible reference that has popped up in our Sunday morning sermons. The language you might have noticed is that of “shining like stars”, which comes from Philippians:

…shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Philippians 2:15-16, NIV

Who is the “them” referred to? The apostle Paul, who wrote this, is is talking about the “warped and crooked generation” of people living in defiance of God and apart from the love of Christ. There’s no question this is strong language, but pay attention to what is being said to us who follow Christ.

Sometimes reading a verse in more than one translation can help us hear the ideas more clearly. Here it is again, with more context:

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…
Philippians 2:13-16, NLT

These are challenging words! What strikes me about these verses is how Paul connects our witness among people to our way of life. This is a lot more involved than just getting a good evangelistic script or planning an amazing event. Paul is saying that when we live well it helps other people see God’s goodness. The light of Christ shines most clearly when we live cleanly.

This will, of course, require diligent effort day after day; Paul challenges us to “work hard to show the results of your salvation”, but the burden doesn’t rest on us alone. Paul reminds us that we can live in a way that shines brightly “because God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him”. God makes it all possible, if we really trust and seek Him.

If you want the life and love of Christ to shine through you to the people around you today, here’s my question for you: What is keeping your light from shining more clearly? Is there anything you need to yield to God’s transforming work for the sake of others coming to know Him?

What Have You Seen and Heard?

Seen and Heard

For many people the idea of telling other people about Jesus or “sharing the Gospel” feels intimidating.

Our internal monologue might echo with self doubt: “What do I say? I don’t think I can remember everything the pastor said in his sermon. I’m not a good speaker. What if I say something wrong? I don’t know enough Bible verses…”

Perhaps we can set ourselves at ease by following the example of John. In the New Testament letter of 1 John, he shares out of what he knows to be true from direct personal experience. He writes with simple words and speaks warmly about his relationship with those he is reaching out to.

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
1 John 1:3-4, NLT

When you are with people you care about it is the most natural thing in the world to share your stories about life experiences. Sharing honestly, personally, and even vulnerably opens up the possibility for real connection with other people – and also with God!

What have you “seen and heard”? What has been your personal experience with God?
When have you known the reality of Christ most fully in your life?
How has a life lived with Jesus brought you joy?
What is your story of faith?
Who are you sharing all of this with?

Meals Matter

A Meal Table

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Quotes from A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester

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Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance. Few acts are more expressive of companionship than the shared meal. … Someone with whom we share food is likely to be our friend, or well on the way to becoming one.

Around the table we offer friendship and celebrate life. Our meals offer a divine moment, an opportunity for people to be seduced by grace into a better life, a truer life, and a more human existence.

When you combine a passion for Jesus with shared meals, you create potent gospel opportunities.

Meals can be a visual representation of our hearts. If our hearts are concerned for position, honor, status, or approval, then that will be reflected in our dining etiquette. Consider how your meals express your vision of life. Think about who’s invited, how they’re served, what you hope to achieve, and the layout of your home. Do they express the vision of the kingdom of God?

Find out more about Cornerstone’s focus on #GreenTables.

Push VS Pull

Pull. by b.inspired on Flickr
Pull. by b.inspired on Flickr

Have you ever gotten to a door at the mall, pushed and pushed to try and go through… only to discover it’s a “pull”? It’s hard to recover from that gracefully – even if no one else saw you!

When it comes to evangelism, sharing the Gospel, many of us have had bad “push” experiences. A relative who tried to impose a certain belief with a heavy hand, a stranger who spoke judgmentally, an event that put the pressure on. Perhaps you’ve even been the push-er and felt uncomfortable and forced as you tried to do something that didn’t seem to come naturally.

There may be times and places where a “push” is the right approach but certainly not every time. I’d venture to say that most of the time for most people, “pull” is the right approach to sharing about Jesus Christ.

What does this mean? It means we let people ask us about what they are seeing and hearing in our lives, then respond. It also means that people are engaged based on their own interest. We allow Christ to draw and pull towards Himself by His Holy Spirit and we work in cooperation with that.

This is what the apostle Peter was commending in one of his letters:

1 Peter 3:15, NIV – “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

A word of caution: this is not simply passive, and it doesn’t let us off the hook for taking action. Rather, it requires a kind of “Gospel intentionality” and suggests three things:

  1. We are actively living in a way that is different, a way that shows Christ is leading our lives.
  2. We are allowing people into our lives in a way that is open and vulnerable, close enough that they can see the goodness and grace of Christ (AKA the Gospel) and the difference He makes.
  3. We are always prepared to explain who Christ is and what He means to us.

Looking this list, which is most challenging for you?

In my experience, understanding the difference between push and pull changes my posture to one that is welcoming, gracious, and respectful (as Peter said). It helps me to feel like what I have  truly is “good news”, news that I’m happy to share and people are wanting to hear!

Think of the people close to you that you wish knew Christ. Does the idea of push VS pull help you think about how you will relate to them in the future?

Invite Someone to the Table

Today you hold an invitation. This invitation is for you to give to another. It’s an opportunity for you to…

Invite strangers into conversation
and become neighbours
Invite neighbours into community
and become friends
Invite friends into Christ
and become family

At Cornerstone we talk about Green Tables. Who is there in your life that you could extend an invitation to?

Is there someone you have overlooked, due to busyness or inattention?
Is there someone you don’t know well, but would like to?
Is there someone you could invite to church this Sunday?

The Lookout Blog

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Thursdays are “Lookout” days. Gordon Dickinson, Cornerstone’s Pastor of Community Outreach, will regularly post quotes, links, and thoughts to encourage you to look out at the people around you and consider how you can intentionally share the life and love of Jesus Christ.

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